Frugal Living 

Air Drying Clothes: Dry Clothes Absolutely Free!

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Rabbit in the Dryer!When JD wrote a post about how you could air dry your clothes indoors, I laughed. I laughed because my family growing up always air dried our clothes and always did it indoors. We didn’t even own a clothes dryer!

Our laundry room shared the same space as our furnace so the room was always hot and always dry, the perfect atmosphere for drying clothes. The laundry room also only had washer and two lines that ran across the room, which was only slightly bigger than some walk in closets these days, and we hung all our clothes on that line.

Why did we always air dry our clothes? There were several reasons:

  • Clothing last longer. When it isn’t subject to super high heat and thrown around and around and around, clothing tends to last a little bit longer and the colors are a little brighter. The edges of shirts don’t get frayed but you do get more wrinkles and lint, which can be removed with those sticky garment rollers.
  • Less opportunity to ruin clothes. I’m a pretty simple minded person and I can’t really remember if a shirt or pair of pants has special drying instructions (yes, I could read it but when you’re grabbing clothes in bunches, sometimes stuff gets enveloped!). Is that garment tumble dry low or can I put it on high? Will it shrink? Bah, just air dry it all and you can’t possibly mess something up.
  • Less heat in the home. We tend to air dry clothes more often in the summer because the hot air of the dryer vents into our home. I’ve been meaning to go to Home Depot to get a longer exhaust hose but until then the hot air is vented into our kitchen. In the winter, this isn’t bad because the hot air heats up the house. In the summer, this is terrible because it introduce unnecessary heat into a home we’re trying to keep cool!
  • Less electricity. Obviously air drying consumes less electricity than the dryer.
  • Better for the environment. This goes hand in hand with using less electricity, which reduces demand and the burning of fuel.

If you’re not a fan of air drying, consider air drying part of the laundry load. In the winter, I always pull out towels or other thick materials for air drying. Towels suck up water so they’re especially damp and take forever in the dryer. By pulling them out, you cut down the drying time while not giving up “softness” on the garments where softness matters. I don’t care about soft towel so I use the crunchy towels while my wife uses the softer ones. 🙂

Finally, you don’t always need a clothes line to air dry your clothes, we have a fold up rack that we stick in our kitchen. It holds most of our laundry and can be bought at a Wal-Mart-type store for a few dollars (and it’s easy to move so you can stick it outside if you have a nice day out). For those items that don’t fit on the rack, we just stick them on random dining room chair backs, hangers on doors, etc. You can pretty much hang them on anything that allows for some air flow.

Give it a try, even if it’s only one a handful of items, you might like it! (and look out for rabbits!)

(photo: TheTim)

{ 17 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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17 Responses to “Air Drying Clothes: Dry Clothes Absolutely Free!”

  1. Matt says:

    We do this all the time. I find the best place to hang clothes (especially in our small apartment) is on hangers hanging on the trim over door frames.

  2. David says:

    Don’t forget that it’s free, whereas running your dryer can be the most expensive utility cost in your home!

  3. Jon says:

    What am I doing wrong? My clothes- especially the towels- smell musty when I air dry them.

  4. jim says:

    Jon – I think you’re drying them in an area that’s too humid, ie. it’s drying too slowly.

  5. VicfromATL says:

    Great post. I have started doing the same..though I was Air drying some of my clothes earlier.

    Imagine what would be the impact if whole America did this!!



  6. Jadin says:

    We. too, always line dry. We had been “putting up” with stiff, board like towels, etc. until we started using vinegar in the rinse water. WE tried softener to no avail, but after using a similar volume of white vinegar, within two, three washes, everything is perfect!

    • Melissa says:

      How much vinegar?

      • Amanda says:

        You use about 1/2 cup vinegar when you would use fabric softener (The salad smell of vinegar goes away after it drys). There are thousands of things you can use vinegar for (I would google it).

  7. garrett says:

    Stop writing. Get your ass to Home Depot and stop paying to heat and cool your home at the same time!

  8. garrett says:

    You can always air fluff stiff towels in the dryer, just don’t use heat, and you’ll have soft towels with very little energy use.

  9. Trevor says:

    Great post!

    It actually really cracked me up because my family (way back in the day) never used a dryer either! AND when I asked my Mom why that was the case, she gave me a similar list; too bad I was only like 12 when I asked the question!

    I could have cared less then. But now… it makes a lot of sense!

  10. Rob Lewis says:

    Because of the amount of washing we do, we tend to put a bit of it in the dryer and leave the rest to dry around the house when it’s wet outside.

    The only problem I find is when we have clothes hanging over doors, the kids tend to forget and the hangers end up scratching the paint off the door frame.

  11. Geoff says:

    We have geothermal heating cooling, which does everything including heating the hot water. the only thing it doesn’t do is to run the clothes dryer.
    I was thinking…air conditioning and heat pumps tend to dry the air out, because when it chills, it loses mositeure, ditto when it heats. Why not build a drying closet, between the air return (back to the heater/air conditioner), so that you would blow all the air past your clothes. The mositure would be removed in the air handler, and the velocity of dry air passing around the clothes would dry them quickly. you could set up the clothesline in the closet, or put it on a roller so you could slide it out, load it up, slide it back in and shut the door.
    Just a thought!

  12. We do this all the time. We now have a home with a small yard, so tying two nylon cloth lines and buying a couple dozen clothespin did it for us. We pay 1.5$ per dryer load because we live in a pay per wash apartment. So its an even bigger saving for us, and then we don’t have to hang around for the dryer to do its job and picking up our clothes from it. We just use the washer, hang the clothes for drying and we are good to go anywhere we want while mother nature does its job.

  13. mom in missouri says:

    if you are laughing at our silliness for buying airers and clothesline I will laugh at your grammar, “been meaning” ?! so you have been “meaning” for awhile now lol haha
    Btw I just bought a beautiful brand new airer advertised on Craigslist for $10, I have no idea why she was selling it for that price, It is a beauty and holds at least a load of laundry (large front loader). I can just slide it across the floor to the nearest heat vent and a free clothes dryer for $0 spent in energy. 🙂

  14. sue says:

    I live in a townhouse and I recently discovered i could save a bundle by hanging clothes on hangers in a spare bed room until someone told me that it could cause mold growth and mold spores in the air. Is that true?

    • Jim says:

      I don’t think hanging your clothes in a room will cause that, but to be sure just open a window so there’s air flow.

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